What lengths will you go to in order to protect your creative time?
I’ve come to depend on my Saturday morning “me time.” My husband and I split the weekend mornings; he gets Sunday. This means I can either sleep in on Saturdays or get up early and start writing — or a combination of the two. But I have from whenever I get up until 10:00 or even 11:00 (if I push it) all to myself, assuming that I don’t have to leave the house to go do something. Like pick kids up from sleepovers.
Sleepovers. A few weeks ago I came to realize that my Saturday morning time was increasingly being sacrificed to pickups for one of my older kids after a Friday night sleepover. Sleepover pickup time seems to be 10:00 by default. This means I need to leave the house by 9:45 in most instances — so I have to start showering/getting dressed by 9:15. If my husband and I were up late the night before and I want to sleep in a little, maybe I get out of bed at 8:00. So, up at 8:00, make coffee….by the time I’m happily ensconced back in bed with my coffee and laptop, I might have an hour left before having to stop. Now, an hour is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s a whole lot less than nearly THREE hours. And without question, once I’m up and have joined the family, that’s it. There’s no going back to my morning hidey-hole. What’s a mama to do?
I started telling my older kids that they had to nail-down pickup time BEFORE dropoff. Either they needed to know that I could pick them up at 11:00 or later, or they had to arrange for a ride home. If neither option was feasible, and the sleepover couldn’t be moved to our house, then no sleepover. I figured that this was only one of the two weekend nights anyway, so it couldn’t be too problematic.
My new edict took hold. Things were going well. I started remembering to remind the kids about pickup plans before I agreed to take them anywhere on Friday nights. More time to self = happier me.
Then, this weekend, my mother came down to babysit while my husband and I went to the David Gray concert in Boston. As we were leaving — late — my daughter asked if she could sleepover at a friend’s house. She needed a dropoff, however, and it was out of our way. No go. But then Grandma volunteered to take her, with the two little ones in tow. Fine. Daughter was happy and packed her stuff in a rush. Just as we were all heading out the door at the same time, I remembered: “What about tomorrow? Are you going to need a ride before 11:00?” Oh. Daughter wasn’t sure. She made a few calls. No, she had to be picked up by 10:00 because the host had a soccer game, and the other girl who was also sleeping over was unable to give my daughter a ride.
I thought about my morning, and how I was so looking forward to getting back to my manuscript. I thought about what I’d just said to Cathy about how your family won’t take your creative commitment seriously unless YOU take it seriously. I want to finish this book, and I need to treat my work LIKE MY WORK.
I told my daughter I couldn’t pick her up at 10:00.
She was sweet, and didn’t give me a guilt trip. “It’s OK,” she said. “I’m going to have a busy weekend NEXT weekend.”
I felt like crap. Really, was it such a big deal to cut my morning a little short? I couldn’t do it. “It’s fine, I’ll just get you in the morning,” I said (a little reluctantly). “No, Momma,” she said. “It’s fine.” She headed back to her room, and I let it go. We left, while I fell into maternal self-flagellation. Isn’t it a mother’s JOB to drive her kids all over the place? Was it really fair to deprive my daughter of a fun night with her friends, just because I selfishly wanted MORE time to myself?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t know if I want to know. But my daughter didn’t go, and I used my morning time effectively. I kind of owed it to my daughter to do that, didn’t I?
What would YOU have done?
Some of our readers are contemplating (or have already committed to) NaNoWriMo. What are you going to do to protect the amount of time required for churning out 1,600 words a day? Sure, most people here (even non-writers!) could churn out 1,600 words in a single day. But EVERY day, for THIRTY days?
Despite the sheer terror mild panic, I’m thinking of running “bandit” on the NaNoWriMo road race. I can’t commit officially, because I want to work on my current fiction project and NoNoWriMo rules specify that all projects MUST be from scratch. I’m also more than a little intimidated by the 1,600 daily benchmark. Even just committing to 500 words a day might be a struggle for me. Once I get going, I’m fine, but finding the sit-in-your-seat-and-get-started window, every day, is pas evident.
Stepping up your game, and making sure that YOU are clear on your commitment and that you then communicate that commitment to your family, are essential steps. What else can we do to create — and protect — our time?
[Photo courtesy Shawn Allen under a Creative Commons license.]